(An analysis based on Chapter 1 of The Culture of Narcissism.)
To live for the moment is the prevailing—to live for yourself, not for your predecessors or posterity. We are fast losing the sense of historical continuity… (Lasch)
If you have no past, you have no future. As an American, no matter what race or ethnicity you are, you have a history. The fact that you are here in the first place has something to do with your history, whether good or bad.
When we overthrew our British overlords in 1776, we lost a good chunk of our cultural continuity. We had to start all over and base our “history” on the events, institutions and values accumulated since the Revolution namely, democracy and the Constitution. For many, these are powerful symbols of our “history.” However, since people of African heritage were not allowed to participate in such revolutionary institutions, some people—particularly on the political left–see these revolutionary values as tainted. Some even go so far as to argue that Black Americans have no “history” at all. To me, this is a pathetic and erroneous notion. Through DNA analysis, I can trace both black and white ancestry back to Jamestown, Virginia. I bear the weight of all that my slave ancestors went through. I have free mulatto and Indian ancestors who were run out of Virginia because they were seen as a threat to the status quo. I am a relative of both Thomas Jefferson and Nat Turner.
I would NEVER allow some alienated narcissist to tell me that the United States is not my country. I could never allow myself to believe that I have nothing to live or work for. My people have FOUGHT for the “revolutionary values” that the Constitution does indeed represent despite the fact that we were denied those values for centuries.
I was a Black student leader back in the late 1980s. One of my comrades in the anti-apartheid movement told me that the South African struggle was a much bigger fight there than it could ever be in America because there was no concept of “all men are created equal“ in their constitution. In fact, there was not much of a “constitution” period. So the next time you feel that “American values” are not worth fighting for think of where you would be without them.